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price, and the angry nobleman thereupon boxed the
armourer's ears in his own house. Nay, more, Andrew
T^czynski betook himself at once to the Rathhaus,
and brought a charge against the smith on account
of the armour, admitting at the same time that he had
assaulted him. The Council bade Andrew wait, and
sent a beadle for the smith, but the nobleman grew
impatient, left the Town-hall, and stood with his
friends opposite the house of one of the councillors
when Master Clement was oroino; to the Town -hall


with the beadle. " Sir," called out the smith to the
nobleman, "you have beaten me shamefully in my
own house, and boxed my ears ; now you will get
the worst of it ! " Thereupon Andrew T^czynski, his
son, and retainers fell upon the smith, and severely
chastised him in the public street. A loud cry was
now raised, the bell of the city was rung, and the
mob rushed in pursuit of T^czynski, who at first
took refuge in the house of a tax-collector, and after-
wards in a church, where he was murdered. This
event occurred on July i6, 146 1. To this, Dlugosz
adds, that the body of T^czynski was dragged
through the streets, and left lying there for three
days. But his narrative is suspected of exaggera-
tion, as he was on intimate terms with members
of the T^czynski family The king (Casimir), in
his camp at Inowroclaw, w^as only able to appease
the nobility for the insult offered to their order by
promising a speedy punishment of the guilty parties
on his return to the city. Meanwhile Clement, the
smith, had prudently escaped from Cracow. John,
the brother of Andrew, pointed out nine citizens
as guilty — the burgomaster, three councillors, and
five members of the corporation. All the evidence
showed these men to be innocent. Three were at
last released, but the remaining six were con-
demned to death, and, after having been kept
some days in one of the towers of the castle, were
executed privately in that which overlooks the
Vistula, which has since been called the T^czynski
tower. The aristocratic party appear to have been
afraid to have them put to death in the market-



place. Even contemporary writers style it judkiuni
crudelisslninin et iniqini.'n.

The whole proceeding reminds us of a sanguinary
episode which we shall be compelled tu mention
lurther on — the tragedy of Thorn in 1724. Here,
again, we have an aristocracy with unreasonable
privileges in collision with peaceful citizens, and
using its power in a cruel way. There was nothing
in the book of fate for such privileged tyrants but
ruin, and, however much we may lament the fate of
Poland as a nation, it is impossible to feel great regret
for the calamities which overcame her nobility.


MUND II., AUGUSTUS (1548-1572). THE

(I 574-1 575), AND STEPHEN BATORY (l 576-1 586).

SiGlSMUND, who succeeded in 1507, was youngest
son of Casimir IV., and was born in 1467 ; he was
therefore forty years of age at the time of his acces-
sion. His reign coincides, to a great extent, with
that of our Henry VHI. He appears to have been
a man of feeble character, who contrived to steer
tolerably clear of the difficulties surrounding him,
but had no bold or original ideas. During his reign
there were troubles with Tatar and Turk, and espe-
cially with Russia. The old domestic feud of the
two Slavonic nations, as Pushkin called it, was begin-
ning to develop itself; henceforth we shall find them
engaged in constant struggles. The contrast between
them was, in many respects, a sharp one. Poland
was governed by an oligarchy of nobles ; Russia
obeyed the uncontrolled authority of an autocrat.
In Russia the condition of the peasantry, bad as it
was, possessed some redeeming features ; she had the



mir and the possession of land guaranteed to the
village community, whereas whatever traces Poland
once possessed of this old Aryan tenure had long
disappeared. Moreover, even though the burghers in
Russia were not summoned to the dunia, they made
their appearance in the sobor ; but we never hear in
Poland of any of the burghers being summoned to
the diets.

Sigismund was twice married. His first wife, of
whom we hear but little, was Barbara Zapolya, sister
of the celebrated John Zapolya, who attempted to
get the crown of Hungary; she died in 15 15. His
second wife was Bona Sforza, a daughter of one
of the dukes of Milan, who made herself thoroughly
hated in her adopted country on account of her
intrigues and avarice. Upon her was composed the
epigram : —

*' vSi parcunt Parcse, si luci lumine lucent,
Si bellum bellum, turn bona Bona fuit."

When she left the country after her husband's death,
she carried away large sums of money to Italy, where
she died in 1558. The only beneficial effect she can
be said to have had upon the country was the intro-
duction of painters and artists of various kinds, who
made the somewhat barbarous Court of Poland more
elegant. It is in this way that we must explain the
existence of some beautiful missals, once illuminated
for the use of Sigismund and emblazoned with the
Polish arms — such as that preserved in the Bodleian

In 1524 Albert, the Grand Master of the Teutonic



knights and ruler of Eastern Prussia, who was the
nephew of Sigismund, accepted the Lutheran reH-
gion and his dominions were secularised ; he still,
however, acknowledged the suzerainty of Poland.
On the 25th of April he appeared in Cracow, still
decorated with the black cross of his order, and made
his peace with Poland as Duke of Prussia. The
terms of the concession were agreed upon and in
the market-place of the city the new duke tendered
the oath of fidelity to the king. We shall find this
supremacy resigned by Poland, by the treaty of
Wehlau in 1666 (a small town not far from Konigs-
berg) ; in 1701 Prussia, under the Great Elector,
became a kingdom.

The reformed doctrines soon made their appear-
ance in the country, and Sigismund adopted a timid
policy with regard to them. At Danzig they became
very prominent. The king made his entry into the
city, and attempted to put the movement down. At
first he temporised with the powerful faction which
had adopted Lutheranism ; but as the Roman
Catholic nobles poured in greater numbers with their
forces into the city he became bolder, and ordered
Salicetus, a prominent citizen, and twenty of the
principal leaders to be arrested. Of these, fifteen,
including Salicetus — in spite of an eloquent speech
which he made in his defence — were put to death
and the rest exiled. The king left Danzig in 1526,
but he had not succeeded in stamping out the new
doctrines there and they rapidly spread to Thorn,
Elbing (Elbl^g), and other places. The anachronistic
government of Poland was unable to deal with the




civil life in these important towns, and we shall,
therefore, not be surprised at seeing them gradually
estranged from her, and ready, when the occasion
came, to transfer themselves to another master. To
political difficulties religious were to be added.

In 1537 occurred the first rokosz as it is called, or
rebellion of the nobility against the king. The affairs
of Wallachia caused Sigismund to undertake an
expedition against that country. One hundred and
fifty nobles, assembled at Lemberg, refused to go on
the expedition, and laid their complaints before the
king. This rokosz has been sarcastically called
Woyna kokosza, or the war against the fowls, because
the only slaughter which took place was that of the
poultry at Lemberg. Perhaps the similarity of the
words rokosz and kokosz may have helped the phrase.

The Lithuanians had not become fully reconciled
to their union with Poland, and Gliriski, one of their
leading men, attempted to make it again independent,
and on failing in his object fled to Russia, where he
was warmly received, and persuaded the Grand Duke
to invade Lithuania. The Russians got possession of
Smolensk in 15 14, but suffered a defeat at Orsha the
same year, at the hands of the Polish commander
Ostrozski. Smolensk is one of the border cities
which we shall find continually changing hands.
The Poles regained it by the treaty of Deiilino, in
16 1 8, but the Russians acquired it for good in 1667.
In 1526, by the death of the last of the dukes of
Masovia (Masowsze), this duchy was reunited to the
crown of Poland. In 1533 Sigismund concluded a
treaty with the Turks, which was important as


securing his southern provinces from invasion. Po-
land was now in a very prosperous condition, and
a lustre was cast upon her by the genius of the great
Copernicus, a native of Thorn (1473-1543). In 1529
Sigismund published his code of laws for Lithuania,
which was issued in the White Russian language.
The king died at Cracow in the year 1548, and lies
buried in the cathedral of that city, so rich in historical
monuments. His reign was an important one for the
country, in spite of his own weakness of character.
We have seen the great spread of the doctrines of the
Reformation, at first in those parts of the country
which bordered upon Germany ; later in Little Po-
land and Lithuania. According to Professor Kallen-
bach (Les Htimanistes Polonais, Fribourg, 1891), its
growth was much assisted by what might almost be
called the social reorganisation of the State. The
Polish nobility, encouraged by the great privileges
which had been granted to them had now for their
chief objects the subjugation of the towns and peasants.
We have seen how the Polish burgher and peasant
had, till the earlier part of the fifteenth century, been
free, comparatively speaking. Since that time they
had been gradually sinking. By the peace of Thorn
in 1466, Poland regained the mouth of the Vistula.
This outlet to the Baltic developed greatly the trade
in wheat and timber — the two natural sources of
wealth in the country. The cultivation of the land,
which up to that time had been of moderate importance
and proportioned to the wants of the inhabitants, now
rapidly increased, so that grain might be furnished
for exportation. The Polish noble became transformed


into an agriculturist, whose only care was to get as
great a harvest as possible from his fields. He wanted
plenty of hands to work, and thus, from economic
causes, the peasants were more and more employed
upon his lands. Soon the corvee of the serfs, sanc-
tioned by various diets, became one of the chief
sources of the wealth of the nobles. In this way
great changes were brought about in the country,
and the Polish nobility, who up to the fifteenth
century had lived frugally, became rich and luxu-
rious. At that period only the sons of the wealthier
magnates had been able to pursue their studies in
foreign countries ; but in the sixteenth, the children
of the smaller gentry began to visit the universities
of other lands. This change in Polish habits of life is
amply borne testimony to by the historian Kromer,
who writes as follows in his funeral oration on King
Sigismund I., pronounced in 1548: — '^ Testantur id
tantce opes et facilitates Jiotninum nostrorum, tain opii-
lenta cum externis commercia^ tanttis splendor ne dicam
InxiiSy tanta elegantia turn in csdificiis et victii cidtuque
corporis, turn in sermone et inoribits^ quanta nunquam
ante Jiunc regent in Po Ionia fuitT

In 1534 Sigismund I. attempted to hinder the Polish
youth from studying at foreign universities. This order,
however, he was obliged to cancel in 1543, on account
of the decay of the University of Cracow, which was
obstinately attached to the ancient system of educa-
tion. The professors were mostly men of humble
origin, who received miserable stipends. To this
must be added the indifference with which the
nobility regarded the university, which appeared to




them a mere middle-class institution and nothing
more. To prove his good-will to it, and yielding


somewhat to the prejudices of the time, Sigismund in
1535 ennobled all the doctors, masters, and professors


of the university, uttering the following grand words,
as Professor Kallenbach rightly styles them, " Satius



enim est gestis proprns florere quani majorum opinione
uti nee minor nobilitas est ea qtice propriis virtutibus
comparatury In judging of Sigismund we ought
always to remember to his credit that he was capable
of such language.

He was succeeded by his son of the same name,
generally called Sigismund Augustus. The first wife
of the new king had been Elizabeth, daughter of the
German Emperor, Ferdinand I. On her death he
had privately married Barbara Radziwill, a member
of one of the most illustrious families of Lithuania,
who had been left a widow. On his accession Sigis-
mund avowed his marriage, and his wife accompanied
him to Cracow, to his father's funeral. The nobles,
however, who already treated their sovereign as a chief
magistrate and nothing more, required at the Diet
of Piotrkow that the marriage should be annulled,
probably thinking that the country would gain more
by an alliance with an imperial or regal house. But
Sigismund, by sowing discord in the ranks of his
opponents, proposing, among other things, to put an
end to pluralities in Church and State, contrived to
carry his point. His wife was crowned in 1550, but
died within six months afterwards, not without
suspicion of having been poisoned by her mother-in-
law, the hated Bona, who, perhaps, introduced among
the more simple northern people, not only some-
thing of the taste and refinement of her Italian
countrymen, but also their terrible arts of secret
poisoning. She is even suspected of having got rid
of her son's first wife by these means. Barbara, to
judge by her portrait, was a handsome, sympathetic



woman, worthy of a better fate. But the Roman poet
has told us : —

•' Non bene conveniunt nee in una sede morantur
Majestas et amor."

The Poles are said to have loved her during her
short reign, and she has been made the subject of
many a graceful lay by the poets of her country. In
three years Sigismund married again, a sister of his
first wife, Catherine, widow of Francis Gonzaga,
Duke of Mantua. The marriage, however, was an
unhappy one, and Catherine lived apart from her
husband. He was anxious to procure a divorce
from the Pope, but did not succeed in obtaining
one. Again the quarrel between the Protestants,
or Dissidents, as they were called, raged fiercely
in Poland. The brother of Barbara, Sigismund's
second wife, was an enthusiastic Protestant, and
had done much for the spread of the reformed
doctrine in Lithuania, where he had great influ-
ence on account of his wealth and position as
Palatine of Wilno. At his expense the first Protes-
tant Bible was printed in Polish in 1563. This book
has now become exceedingly scarce, because his son
was converted to Romanism, and destroyed every
copy of his father's Bible upon which he could lay his

The Court of Nicholas Radziwill at Wilno is
described very graphically by the English ambas-
sador to Russia, Jerome Horsey. The account which
he gives will enable the reader to form an idea of the
pomp of a Polish nobleman in the sixteenth century.


It will be observed that the orthography of Horsey is
very capricious :

"When I came to Villna the chief citie in Littuania,
I presented myself and letters pattents from the Quen,
that declared my titells and what I was, unto the great
duke viovode Ragaville [Radziwill], a prince of great
excelencie, prowes and power, and religious protes-
tant, gave me great respect and good enterteynment ;
told me, though I had nothinge to say to him from
the Ouen of England, yet, he did so much honnor
and admire her excelent vertus and graces, he would
also hold me in the reputacion of her majesties
ambassador ; which was som pollacie that his subjects
\sic\ should thincke I was to negociate with him.
Toke me with him to his church ; heard devine
service, sphalms, songs, a sermon and the sacra^ments
ministered according to the reformed churches ;
whereat his brother cardinal, Ragavill, did murmur.
His hightness did invite me to diner, honnored with
50 halberdeers thorow the cittie ; placed gonners and
his guard of 500 geniilmen to bring me to his pallace ;
himself accompanied with many yonge noblemen,
receavcd me upon the tarras ; brought me into a
very larg room where organes and singing was, a long
tabell set with pallentins, lordes and ladies, himself
under a cloth of estate. I was placed before him in
the middest of the table ; trompetts sound and kettell
droms roared. The first service brought in, ghesters
and poets discourse merily, lowed instruments and
safft plaied very musically ; a set of dwarffes men
and weomen finely atired came in with sweet
harmeny still and mournfull pieps and songs of art ;


Davids tymbrils and Arons swett soundinge bells, as
the termed them. The varietie made the tyme
pleasinge and short. His hightnes drancke for the
Majesty the angel icall Quen of England her health ;
illustrated her greatnes and graces. The great princes
and ladyes every one their glass of sweet wines plaeged
and I did the like for his health. Strainge portraturs,
lyons, unicorns, spread-eagels, swans and other made
of suger past, som wines and spicats in their bellies to
draw at, and succets of all sorts cutt owt of their
bellies to tast of; every one with his sylver forcke.
To tell of all the order and particuler services, and
rarieties wear tedious ; well-feasted, honnored, and
much made of, I was conducted to my lodginge in
manner as I was brought. Had my letters pattents,
and a gentilman to conduct me thorow his countrye ;
with which I toke my leave. Some pastymes with
lyons, bulls, and bares, straing\to behold, I omytt to
recite." 1

To return, however, to the position of the Dissi-
dents, a name which we must remember was at first
applied to all other sects in Poland besides the
Roman Catholics, including even the Orthodox
Greek. It was afterwards, however, limited to the
Protestant and other kindred sects. In consequence
of a riot at the University, in which some of the
students were killed, many left Cracow and went to
the newly-founded university of Konigsberg, in the
dominions of Albert, the Duke of Prussia. Konigsberg,
although now a city as completely German as can be
found, was in reality of Slavonic origin, having been
founded by Otakar Premysl, the Bohemian king, in


1255 : its Slavonic name was Krolewicz. Duke Albert
established the university in 1554, and at Konigsberg
the first edition of the Gospels in Polish and many
anti-Romanist tracts appeared. Here also vi^as
printed that valuable translation of Luther's Cate-
chism into Old Prussian, a language now extinct.
Duke Albert entertained the project of mounting the
throne of Poland after the death of King Sigismund,
and tried by every means to make himself popular in
that country. He accepted the dignity of a Polish


senator, and would probably have succeeded in his
object had he not predeceased Sigismund, dying in
1568. His only son was a man of feeble character,
quite incapable of developing his father's plans.

Meanwhile in Poland the struggle between the
Papists and Reformers assumed very serious dimen-
sions. A priest was burnt to death for administering
the sacrament in both kinds, and a lady suffered the
same fate for denying the real presence. A large
number of the nobles were infected with the new
teaching, and some of the clergy took wives. Sigis-


mund was disingenuous and inconsistent throughout.
He is supposed to have been incUned to the doctrines
of the Reformation, and even allowed Calvin to
dedicate one of his works to him, and Luther an
edition of his German Bible. But we find him giving
the Bishops power to suppress all heresy with vigour
The religious question was debated at a diet held at
Wola, near Warsaw, the year after Sigismund's death.
No religious differences were to be settled by the
sword — there was to be universal toleration ; but we
shall see that these principles were not carried out.
From this statute we learn that the Polish nobles
were supposed to be masters of the spiritual, as well
as the material condition of their serfs, for it was
expressly stated that their power over them was to be
unlimited " tam in scecularibns qiiani in spiritualibus.''
In his wars with Ivan the Terrible, Sigismund was
unfortunate. The Russians got possession of Polotsk ;
on the other hand, the Poles conquered Livonia from
the sword-bearing knights. Livonia thus became
divided between two powerful neighbours ; for Revel
and a part of Esthonia were annexed to Sweden, while
the remainder now came into the possession of Poland.
The Pacta Snbjectionis^ as they were called, were con-
cluded on the 28th of November, 1561. All their poli-
tical privileges were guaranteed to the Livonians, and
they were to be allowed to profess the Protestant
religion. The Grand Master of the Knights was
henceforth to be invested with the ducal title, and the
hereditary succession to the duchies of Courland and
Semigallia was settled upon his heirs male, but it
v/as to be a fief of the crown of Poland. He was also



declared perpetual Governor of all the rest of Livonia.
Thus the order of the sword-bearing knights, which
had existed for more than three hundred years, came
to an end. Among the Grand Masters, Walter
Plettenberg is especially to be remembered, having
been one of the most considerable captains of his age.
In 1500 he won a great victory over Ivan III. of
Russia ; almost incredible accounts are given of the
number of the slain.

Sigismund died in 1572, leaving no issue; the
direct rule of the Jagiellos was now to cease in Poland,
but we shall find it afterwards continued in a female
branch. We have now the rise of a Polish literature ;
the laws were promulgated in Polish, which was the
Court language, although Latin was occasionally heard.
In 1569 took place the diet of Lublin (in Little Poland),
the object of the statute there enacted was the closer
union of Lithuania with Poland, and the abolition of
" home rule " in the former. The connexion of the
two countries up to the present time had not been
close ; there were differences of language and religion
— especially the latter. Many prominent Lithuanians
had embraced the reformed doctrines, and many had
remained adherents of the Orthodox Church. War-
saw was fixed upon as the seat of the diet, on
account of its convenient situation. It afterwards
became the capital of the country under Sigismund
.II. The city is said to have been founded by
Konrad, the Duke of Masovia, in 1269; the old
Dukes of Masovia resided at Czersk, near Warsaw.

On the failure of the direct line of the Jagiellos an
interregnum took place. Four candidates appeared


for the vacant throne, firstly, Ernest, Archduke of
Austria. The Habsburgs, it will be observed, were
always attempting to secure the crown, and although
they were unable to do so, they contrived as often as
they could, to marry one of their archduchesses to the
Polish king. The remaining candidates were Henry
of Valois, Duke of Anjou, brother of the French king,
John, King of Sweden, who had married the late
king's sister Catherine, and Ivan IV. of Russia. The
contest lay between ^he two first, the Swedish alli-
ance was not considered to be of any value and the
Tsar Ivan was too much disliked. Montluc, the French
ambassador at the Polish Court, secured the throne for
his master's brother. The new king was the son of
Henry II. of the house of Valois and Catherine de
Medici, and was next in succession to his brother
Charles IX., then reigning. He was twenty-three
years of age.

The news of the massacre of St. Bartholomew,
August 24, 1572, caused some of his future subjects,
many of whom we must remember were Protestants,

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